Ode to An Absent Space Captain – 6 Reasons Why Bill Shatner Is The Greatest Performer of All Time

The career of William Alan Shatner will be nothing short of legendary when people read about him in history books at the turn of the next century. How is it that one man can achieve so much all the while at the same time giving you the feeling that he’s not really taking a single one of his performances seriously. Actor, singer, songwriter, stand up comedian, negotiator of pricelines — and let’s not forget the role that created a now fabled science fiction archetype: The Space Captain.

So you can imagine the heartbreak we Geeks of Doom felt upon hearing that The Shat had not been asked to join the cast of the new Star Trek film. The Federation may have a new Kirk sitting in the Enterprise, but it’s impossible to forget the Shat’s epic mark on the world. Below are just six reasons why Bill Shatner is the greatest performer of all-time. [Feel free to comment with additional reasons.]

#6 – “Damnit Jim, Booty is Booty”

It would call to reason that a show about space exploration would lead to several encounters with alien beings. It would also call to reason that some of these aliens would be smoking hot half-naked women in all shades of the rainbow. Aside from the fact that he shared television’s first interracial kiss, Shatner’s portrayal of “Jim” taught us that Booty is Booty, and that means it’s quite all right to make passionate love to a 6-foot-tall blue (or oftentimes green) Amazonian. Without these epic performances, how could Comic Conventions exist in their current state? They could not. Moving on…

#5 – I Drink LeBatt Blue, Not Romulan Ale – It’s OK to be Canadian

After several dedicated years of performing, a lifetime of signing autographs for Trek fans and two Miss Congeniality films, Shatner decided to take a stand and proudly pronounce his allegiance to the Maple Leaf. That’s right, William Shatner is indeed a Canadian. Prior to that day the world looked upon the Canuckle-headed country with uncertainty that they had  heard incorrectly pronounce words like sooory and Aboot from the likes of Tom Green and those damn kids from Degrassi. After Shatner’s speech, we still think of those things, but we do it with the understanding that not all Canadians seem as… Canadian.

#4 – Speak Every Scripted Word As A Separate Sentence

Now, most people are going to read that sub-heading and immediately look down on any performance in which the actor treats every word as its own sentence. Quite frankly, I think that’s completely unfair. Has anyone ever stopped to think about how difficult it would be to play a convincing Space Captain who spoke as if each word was a sentence? No, but Bill did. That’s why he’s the greatest.

#3 – Before Priceline, There Was Rescue 911 Narration – Shatner Style

In order to be the greatest actor of all time, you must also conquer being the greatest TV host of all time.  If you enjoyed a little TV in the late ’80s to mid ’90s, there’s a good chance your Tuesday nights were consumed by the most dramatic show of all time: Rescue 911.  William Shatner was the host of the series from 1989 to 1996 and every episode was woven together by his eerily-calm yet still horribly-dramatic verbal presentations.  Every single emergency call, whether it was a tragic death or just a little boo-boo while cutting celery, was doubled in horror by his mastery of compositional introductions.  Just as impressive was his closure of each sad story, which for the most part, ended on a happy note and left us all smiling and oh, so warm inside.  Who else but a god among actors could make us weep and make us smile in such a short period of allotted time? Answer me that.

The only man that could have attempted to stand in Shatner’s shadow when it came to striking fear into our hearts, is the late, great nightmare-inducing voice of Robert Stack on Unsolved Mysteries. Of course, we all know that when it comes to the greatest actor of all time, Shatner stands alone.

—The Movie God

#2 – Mr. Tambourine Man Rockin’ the Suburbs with Ben Folds

Everyone wants to see a two-headed oddity. Call it curiosity. We’d all watch in silence as we wondered how long it would lumber about before it fell flat on its face? Ben Folds and William Shatner, both with varying degrees of music career, making music together sounds like the beginnings of a joke. But it’s most definitely not. Together they have made some of the best music of both Folds’ and Shatner’s careers. Folds has shown an almost supernatural knack for capturing the essence of the William Shatner we’ve all grown up with without dragging around the parody Shatner (I… am.. veryhungry.. I… shouldgetsomething… to.. eat) for cheap effect at every available turn. Using a combination of guitar, grooves, covers, comedy, and deep self-reflection, the teaming of William Shatner and Ben Folds raised the heads of many people in the music community. The music generated by the pair is genre defying; both warm and inviting yet holding to no conventional standard. If you’re interested in check out their collaborations I highly recommend starting with Has Been.


#1 – William Shatner’s Gonzo Ballet

If you think a Ben Folds/Shatner musical team up was as awesome as the legend of Shat gets, well then obviously, you don’t know about William Shatner’s Gonzo Ballet, a feature-length documentary about a ballet by Margo Sappington called “Common People” set to the music of you guessed it, the album Has Been. “Before I knew how excellent it would be, I rolled the dice that it would be excellent. I’m absolutely delighted,” Shatner told the local Nashville news media.

Honorable Mention: Shatnerquake – A Novel

Yes this 100-page paperback soon-to-be classic work of literary fiction does actually exist.

From the Source:

It’s the first ShatnerCon with William Shatner as the guest of honor! But after a failed terrorist attack by Campbellians, a crazy terrorist cult that worships Bruce Campbell, all of the characters ever played by William Shatner are suddenly sucked into our world. Their mission: hunt down and destroy the real William Shatner.

Featuring: Captain Kirk, TJ Hooker, Denny Crane, Rescue 911 Shatner, Singer Shatner, Shakespearean Shatner, Twilight Zone Shatner, Cartoon Kirk, Esperanto Shatner, Priceline Shatner, SNL Shatner, and – of course – William Shatner!

For a cool $10 duckets you can order this novel through PayPal, but I would act fast. Glorious text like this probably has a limited print run.

1 Comment »

  1. How about the fact that even though it was THE FUTURE, and they had elaborate weaponry and a higher sense of being, most Star Trek episodes had Shatner fighting mano-a-mano using fisticuffs. How 20th century.

    Comment by Smed — May 9, 2009 @ 7:47 pm

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